Jersey Myths & Legends


‘The Witches of Rocqueberg’

A famous Jersey tale – neither false nor factual,
A young man called Hubert seeking the supernatural,
One night, grown weary, needing to rest his feet,
He lays at the base of Rocqueberg to sleep.

But was he awake? Or was this a dream?,
A vision of beauties like no man had seen,
Determined to enjoy this sight again,
He returns next night after telling Madeleine

Madeleine his wife; being fearful of tricks,
Told the priest, who warned “follow with a crucifix!,
For their raven haired beauty is just a disguise,
The Witches of Rocqueberg will eat him alive!”


The Inspiration…

A few months ago I saw an article about a series of Jersey Myths & Legends stamps that had been created by local artist Nick Parlett.

There were no images with the text I read but my imagination instantly started racing with ideas and from that moment my mind was set on completing my own photographic series.

I’d been wanting to do something with a local twist that was reflective of my style of creative portraiture and conceptual imagery and this ticked so many boxes.

There were stories of dragons, witches, fairies and more – and I saw it as an opportunity to indulge the nostalgic ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ watching little boy I used to be.

One of my first steps was to research the numerous stories and reach out to other local creatives that I thought would add something to the project in terms of both their skill and their passion.

With Eva Miere onboard (a fantastic make up artist that I’d worked with on previous creative collaborations ) we arranged a meeting with the author of ‘Jersey Folklore & Superstitions Volumes 1 & 2’ – Giles de Bois – who kindly provided us with a wealth of information on the various myths and legends that enrich Jersey’s history.

The first image from the final instalment of our Jersey Myths & Legends collaborative project based on the story of:

‘The Witches of Rocqueberg’

This tale is one of Jersey’s most famous and is traceable back to the 19th century where it features in print in numerous forms/variations.

Roc Bèr (as it was then known) was thought to be a meeting place for witches who would look to summon the devil!

For this initial image I wanted to introduce our male character Hubert and the ‘character’ of the rock itself… Hubert had an unhealthy interest in witchcraft and would often wonder about late at night looking for signs of black magic.

The version of the story that we’re looking at states that after much searching, Hubert felt tired and decided to have a sleep at the base of Rocqueberg – but all was not as it seemed…

This was one of the most straight forward shots of the entire series to shoot with Chaz Chapman​ (Hubert) simply lying against the rock.

We added a touch of smoke to add a bit of atmosphere to the image and you might also spot a partially hidden witchy collection of animal artefacts hanging from the rock (kindly provided to us by Kerry-Jane Warner).

In post I was able to add some more life to the image by changing the sky from day to night and adding a touch of moon light glow – as well as 3 ravens who you may see more from in the images that follow…

“A famous Jersey tale – neither false nor factual,
A young man called Hubert seeking the supernatural,
One night, grown weary, needing to rest his feet,
He lays at the base of Rocqueberg to sleep”


The story states that Hubert had fallen asleep at Rocqueberg and found himself in a dream-like state in a magical forest – confronted by three beautiful women.

For this image I wanted to create a surreal, dream like atmosphere which would be of huge contrast to the harsh rock and mood of Rocqueberg.

Rather than attempt to photoshop out the huge rock I thought we should shoot this second image at a nearby location that had the same magical forest type quality I was looking for.

Thankfully we were allowed permission to shoot at Samarès Manor which has a beautiful garden area and after going to ask permission and do a site visit I found a stunning patch of bluebells in the shade of a large tree which would be perfect.

Myself and Eva Miere MUA discussed some styling options and decided to match the make up to the surrounding bluebells and pink flowers of the tree nearby. Eva also provided the wardrobe which we felt should again contrast to the final image so opted for long floaty dresses with flower headbands.

In order to create as mysterious and surreal an image as possible in-camera, I placed a bit of bubblewrap over the lens – with a small hole in the centre. This meant that the centre of my image was sharp but the surrounding area would be distorted thanks to the plastic – which I then enhanced further in post production.

Megan Hollingsworth, Kelly Leanne Ahearn and Alicia Bell Videira did a fantastic job acting out this scene. I asked them all to try to seduce the camera in order to convey the sense that we were looking at the image through Hubert’s ‘rose-tinted’ eyes.

But was he awake? Or was this a dream?,
A vision of beauties like no man had seen,
Determined to enjoy this sight again,
He returns next night after telling Madeleine


Legend has it that Hubert told his wife Madeleine of his previous evenings experience in the ‘magical woodland’ and so enchanted by what he had seen he would be returning that night.

Madeleine informed the local vicar of her husbands far fetched story and was told to follow him back to Rocqueberg with a crucifix for these temptresses were really hagged witches and had much more sinister desires!

For this final image I wanted to include several characters and the challenge was to find a way to include Hubert, Madeleine, the Witches and Rocqueberg Rock into a single image…. so why not include another element in fire too!

Although I’d considered stereotypical witchy attire (pointy hats & broomsticks) it felt like it was a bit too obvious and that with Eva Miere MUA​’s make up skills we’d be able to transform the girls (Megan Hollingsworth, Kelly Leanne Ahearn​, Alicia Bell Videira​) from the previous image into something a bit more terrifying.

We opted for a ‘skull face’ look, simple black clothing along with a few interesting props.

Wanting to add a bit more of a dynamic quality and atmosphere to the image I asked our firebreather Justin Ozanne​ to breathe fire near our characters – hoping their pale skin would reflect the red/orange glow of the fire and transform the overall mood.

In post I decided that the girls still looked far too pretty(!) so I added an aged/cracked skin effect to reinforce the fact that the young beautiful girls were in fact horrible, old witches.

Chloe Steele​ did a fantastic job playing the part of Madeleine – staying in character whilst holding a massive crucifix provided by Aran Clark​ of The White Shell Co.​ – this was quite a large shoot to organise and I’d left the crucifix to the last minute… an hour before the shoot I didn’t think we were going to have one… then Aran turned up with this!

Go big or go home as they say! And that’s really been the ethos of the entire series.

For the final time, thanks again to Jersey Arts Trust​ for supporting this project and for all the likes, comments and support we’ve received.

Hopefully there’ll be an exhibition at some point in the future.

Madeleine his wife; being fearful of tricks,
Told the priest, who warned “follow with a crucifix!,
For their raven haired beauty is just a disguise,
The Witches of Rocqueberg will eat him alive!


Thanks to Jersey Arts Trust for supporting this project and to everyone who has helped to make it become a reality.

The Team…

Chaz Chapman – ‘Hubert’

Megan Hollingsworth – ‘Witch’

Alicia Videira – ‘Witch’

Kelly Ahern – ‘Witch’

Chloe Steele – ‘Madeleine’

Eva Miere – Make Up Artist – www.evamieremua.co.uk

Aran Clark – Crucifix – www.facebook.com/thewhiteshellco

Callum Thorne – Videography – www.facebook.com/callumthornefilmphoto

Chris Brookes – Drone – www.facebookcom/chrisbrookesaerialphotos

Danny Richardson – Concept & Photography – www.dannyrichardsonphotography.com/art

Justin Ozanne – Firebreather

Natalya De Aveiro – Behind the scenes photos

www.facebook.com/ndaphotographyy


‘The Witches of Rocqueberg’ Full Video…

Videography & Edit by Callum Thorne (Drone footage Chris Brookes Aerial Photography)